Throwback Thursday: Boston Plays in the First Ever World Series
With the Red Sox preparing for their first playoff game this Friday, let’s look back to this day 110 years ago when the Boston Americans played Game 3 of the first modern World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. Boston lost, 4-2.
“Baseball as we know it dates from that 1903 season,” writes Louis P. Masur in Autumn Glory: Baseball’s First World Series. Indeed, the meeting between Boston’s American League champion team and Pittsburgh’s National League winners (both of whom are pictured above) marked a truce after two years of conflict between the two leagues, and the beginning of a fall tradition.
When the American League formed and declared itself a major league in 1900, it began poaching many of the most talented players from the National League. In January 1903, representatives of the two leagues forged a peace agreement. After a season of baseball, the owners of the Americans and Pirates, dominant in their respective leagues, agreed to a best-of-nine series to be played in the two cities. It was wildly popular, drawing huge crowds that overflowed onto the fields. Though attendees have been reigned in, Masur stresses in his book that the game looked much the same:
Baseball as a game was no different in 1953 than it had been in 1903. And it is essentially no different today. The pitcher stands 60 feet 6 inches away from home plate. Ninety feet separate one base from another. It is a perfect distance.
We lost that October 3rd game, but we won the series in eight. The leagues didn’t get their act together in 1904, but in 1905, they agreed to an annual, compulsory World Series modeled on the meeting between Pittsburgh and Boston. Thus, here we are, 110 years later, hoping Boston gets another shot to appear in the ritual we helped create.